Men’s Health Week: Wates launches ‘time to talk’ initiative

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To mark Men’s Health Week (15-21 June), construction company Wates has created a new initiative to encourage industry workers to talk more and share their health experiences

The Men’s Health Week is being kicked off by Wates Construction MD Mark Tant who will deliver a video address to the firm’s UK wide team today (15 June), encouraging them to communicate and talk, despite the social distancing measures currently in place due to Covid-19.

Tant will address the difficult times workers find themselves in at the moment due to pressures balancing work and family life or worries about loved ones and their health, all currently exacerbated during the pandemic.

Along with other members of the senior leadership team at Wates Construction, including group managing director Paul Chandler and northern MD Paul Dodsworth, Tant looks to encourage workers to talk by sharing their own personal health experiences.

This will be done via a series of public blogs published throughout the week and a company zoom webinar on 19 June.

Men’s Health Week is organised by The Men’s Health Forum, a registered charity whose mission is to improve the health of men and boys in England, Wales and Scotland. In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65.

Figures from Public Health England in the last five years has shown that men working in the construction industry are at the highest risk of suicide which makes the issue particularly pertinent.

Chandler will share the very recent experience of his father’s death after being admitted to St Bart’s Royal London Hospital after a grievous fall. Coincidentally, within days of this happening, he handled a call asking for Wates’ help to deliver a rapid five-week project to provide additional intensive care beds and capacity at the hospital in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Time to talk

Chandler said: “Undoubtedly I felt personally invested in the Royal London project due to my personal circumstances, so it was great to see our team step up to this critical challenge.

“This week I’ll be reflecting with colleagues on the testing times we’ve faced in the last few weeks and months – both personally and professionally.

“Losing my dad has turned my family’s life upside down but my hope is that sharing my recent experience may help colleagues and peers across the industry realise that sometimes there are things that are more important than work – and it’s ok to talk about them.”

Paul Dodsworth writes about being diagnosed with testicular cancer aged 42 and how this has spurred his passion for making cultural changes in what is traditionally considered a ‘macho’ industry.

Dodsworth commented: “As much as the industry is making great strides in becoming more open and inclusive, many are still reluctant to seek help and support with mental and physical health issues which deeply affect our wellbeing. It is absolutely okay not to be okay.

“We hope that by shining the spotlight on men’s health, we encourage colleagues to feel comfortable in opening up and talking about their thoughts and experiences.”

Wates is also offering a series of online tools to facilitate ‘Time to Talk’ sessions on sites throughout the week and has offered teams access to a Men’s Health MOT hotline where they can talk to a professional about any health related concerns and issues.

The firm also has 200 trained Mental Health First Aiders on hand to support the workforce when needed.

Tant added: “As an industry we don’t have the best track record in supporting health and wellbeing so this week is a perfect opportunity to reflect on this and change for the better.”

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